Washington Nationals' lefty Gio Gonzalez gave the Nats their third straight solid outing against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday and snapped a personal four-start winless streak with seven scoreless innings on the mound in what was one of the 29-year-old's stronger starts of an up-and-down 2015 campaign.
"I think he used his curveball a lot more," Nats' skipper Matt Williams said after the Nationals' 9-2 win in the series finale.
"Threw some changeups," Williams continued, "but for the most part his curveball was effective for him. Big spot he got [Andrew] McCutchen on one, and then he threw it early in the count too, which -- as we've talked about it a lot -- it just makes his fastball late even better. So, I think more curveballs, less changeups today, he had a good feel for it early."
The Nationals also snapped Pirates' sinker-baller Charlie Morton's five-start winning streak in the process, knocking the right-hander out after just ⅔ of an inning in which he gave up eight hits, two of them home runs, one each by Bryce Harper and Yunel Escobar, and nine runs total, all earned.
"I think that we had a couple of seeing eye hits, to be perfectly honest," Williams said, "but that helps, you need those sometimes, it helps our offense. Guys had a good approach and they made him get the ball up.
"That was the approach today, he throws hard sinker/curveball. Yunel hit a curveball for the homer, but for the most part we got him up today, which we wanted to do to try to take that sinker away."
Harper hit his 24th home run of the season, and his 1 for 4 day left him with a .345 AVG on the year. Escobar's was his 4th, and he was hitting .331 on the year after going 2 for 5.
"They're both swinging well," Williams said.
"They have been all season, really, but both have maintained approach and taken what the pitchers give them and of course they both hit homers today, that's not going to happen every day, but the at bats in-between the homers are good. Walks, on-base percentage, run scoring base hits are important."
The Nationals' win on Sunday gave them a three-game sweep of the Pirates, who came into the series on an eight-game winning streak.
Williams was asked if his team's showing in the series was a good sign of what the team is capable of doing.
"We won today," Williams said. '"That's all we're concerned about."
• We talked about the Nationals' win, Gio Gonzalez's outing and Harper's 24th of 2015 on Nats Nightly after the game: